Ten Seconds to Midnight - Part One

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten days.... view prompt


Contemporary Friendship Holiday

December 21st 1999

Sam’s day pretty much started like any other at Gordon and Gordon Accounting. Login, clock on and attack the numbers. Sam liked numbers. Numbers were safe and dependable. It was close to Christmas and creeping closer still to that dreaded Millennium and the supposed bug that would wipe out technology and life as all knew it. Sam tapped the computer lovingly.

“I’ll back you up, I promise,” Sam soothed.

The day went on like every other, nine through to five with half an hour for lunch. Every Tuesday Sam had a salad and tuna sandwich from Moe’s around the corner. Life was good.

December 23rd 1999

Another day at Gordon and Gordon Accounting that began smack bang on nine. The hour between ten and eleven was interrupted though throwing Sam out for a moment.

“This is Sam, out lead Accountant…” said the deeply baritone voice of Sam’s Manager Dave. “Sam’s been with us for five years now.”

“Six,” Sam stated, correcting Dave without hesitation. Numbers were important.

“Sorry, six years,” stammered Dave. “Sam, meet Jamie…”

“Hi Sam,” said Jamie.

Sam’s eyes moved away from the computer screen for the briefest of moments. Dark green met the palest of blue and Sam suddenly felt a love for something beyond numbers. It was a strange feeling, odd and discomforting and yet extremely pleasurable.

“Welcome to the team, Jamie,” said Sam.

“And moving on…” said Dave’s booming baritone.

Suddenly Sam’s world felt a little empty as Jamie smiled a sweet smile at Sam and then wandered away after Dave.

December 24th 1999

Sam clocked on at 9am but spent the first half hour looking away from the numbers on the computer screen. By 10am Jamie walked by and smiled. A cup of coffee was left on the corner of Sam’s desk. It smelled slightly of cinnamon, something Sam had never tried it before. Sam decided with the first hot sip that it was something not to be tried again. It tasted too much like Christmas.

Lunch was with Sal that day as it was every Thursday. A salad roll with turkey, shared between friends.

 “Merry Christmas, Sam,” announced Sal thrusting an envelope into Sam’s free hand. “Open it!”

Sam did as instructed and between mouthfuls of roll read what was inside.

“A cruise?” asked Sam, confused.

“I want you to come with me,” begged Sal. “We can spend New Year together on board the Escape and not need to worry about this bug…”

Sam calculated the required time off from work and then nodded.

“I’m owed a few days off from working through the last couple of holidays.”

“That’s great, Sam!” said Sal. “Tell Dave straight after lunch.”

Dave was not happy to hear the news but begrudgingly agreed.

Later that day Sam noticed that Jamie was in Dave’s office. They were arguing. When Jamie left Dave’s office ten minutes later Jamie winked at Sam and smiled a beaming smile.

Sam smiled back but did not wink. Sam never winked.

December 25th 1999

Sam spent Christmas alone. Since Sam’s parents had both moved across country five years ago it had become just too difficult. They called of course and had a very long conversation over a Christmas dinner. Sam’s sister Di was there with the twins Danny and Sarah and it was fun to hear what the kids had thought of Sam’s presents for them.

“I had no idea that Toys By Geoff made bears with calculators embedded in the guts,” exclaimed Di with a laugh.

“When the twins are old enough to understand you can tell them I said you’re welcome,” stated Sam seriously.

“So are you coming down for New Years?” asked Di.

“Nope, not this year…” replied Sam.

“No?” questioned Sam’s sister, confused.

“This year I’ll be on the Escape with Sal from work.”

“Somebody special?”

“Just a work friend… There may be someone special though…”

“Do tell…”

Sam explained to Di about Jamie and the feelings in Sam’s heart and head.

“You should ask Jamie out,” suggested Di.

“Maybe after Christmas,” Sam agreed.

Sam had dated once or twice but nothing serious.

On the other end of the phone line Sam’s sister crossed her fingers and her toes.

“Good luck!” Di murmured.

December 26th 1999

Sam packed for the cruise. There was many a phone call between Sam and Sal. So much information was still unknown, so many details required so Sam could pack exactly what was required.

December 27th 1999

Sal was late. Five minutes late to be exact.

“Car trouble, sorry Sam,” was all Sal said.

The first hour of the trip to the city where the cruise ships dock was traveled in silence. Sam was the one who broke the silence at 11:05am.

“I will be asking Jamie on a date when we return from the Escape and not worrying about the bug.”

“Wow, Sam, that is huge for you,” replied Sal.

“I know,” Sam replied.

December 28th 1999

Chaos reigned. Getting from Sal’s friend’s house to the dock was the only easy part of the day. That happened between the hours of 7 and 8am taking precisely the thirty eight minutes Sal had promised. After that though was a grueling hour of filling in forms, showing identification, photo, more forms, checking in baggage.

By the time noon rolled around Sam felt exhausted. Sal literally dragged her reluctant friend up the gangway. Dazzling lights, too much color and sound loud enough to confuse a moose immediately bombarded the pair of friends. Sal immediately took over and checking their passes guided Sam toward the elevator and deck seven.

December 29th and 30th 1999

Exploring the ship was a great way for the two friends to kill time as the Escape pulled out from port and began its chug chug journey through the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. The ship was an ocean palace with everything in abundance that anyone could have ever wished for. Sal and Sam avoided the poker machines (a mathematical waste of time according to Sam) but they loved the Welcome Aboard Disco and the Egyptian Pharaoh and his Queen play. When they discovered that there was to be a Naughty Nineties New Year’s party both Sal and Sam were determined to attend.

December 31st 1999

And so after a swim in the pool and a few cocktails, dinner in the dining room and a brilliant floorshow both Sam and Sal attacked the dance floor. 7pm became 8, then 9 and 10 until finally the last moments of 1999 arrived.

It was then that Jamie appeared…

December 31, 2020 03:30

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22:28 Jan 31, 2021

Tim, wow! I loved your story. I love the way you handle dialogue and keep the story moving. I loved the twist at the end; I did not expect that!! Now, I can't wait to read part 2. Good stuff😀🎇


Tim Law
01:53 Feb 12, 2021

Many thanks for your feedback Charm! I hope you enjoy part 2 just as much.


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Tim Law
04:43 Dec 31, 2020

A creative two parter to end 2020...


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Jasey Lovegood
10:25 Jan 08, 2021

Hello Tim! After putting a comment on of my stories, I decided to look at some of yours. (53?! That’s so many! I will make it my mission to read them all). The cliffhanger makes it super suspenseful, so now I’m going to go read Part 2.


Tim Law
21:30 Jan 08, 2021

Thanks so much Jasey! I have managed that many stories over almost 15 months of Reedsy inspiration. I am sure you will get there too 👍 I really hope you enjoy part two and many of my other efforts, kind regards and keep writing 🌟


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